All the while as I was preparing for my first ultra I wondered: what would come afterward? When you focus on something that is a really huge goal for you for as long as I did - and you finally achieve it - you immediately come to the question, "What's next?"
It would be so easy to mentally 'check that box off' and just drift aimlessly for a while. I do not want to do that.
There are still things I want to do in the sport of ultrarunning. When I first got excited about this back in 2009 (when I read Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run") I dreamed of running the Laurel Highlands Ultra. That race covers the length of the Laurel Highlands Trail in southwestern Pennsylvania, finishing just a few miles from where I grew up. Running it would have a special 'homecoming' feel for me - an element of, "Look what became of that kid that left Johnstown 30 years ago."
The Laurel Highlands Trail is 70.5 miles long. That's twice as long as I just ran at Oil Creek - plus 8.5 miles for added enjoyment. In 2009 I foolishly thought I could be running that race this year, with only 20 months of preparation. Now, two years later with one 50K under my belt, a wiser me cautiously thinks that it may just be possible in 2013 - 20 months from now.
But that means there is no time for drifting aimlessly, no time for resting on my laurels (to go for the obvious pun), no time for sitting on that most well-worn part of my anatomy. Next year has to move me forward and needs a big motivating goal - and that was the subject of my last post. I have that goal firmly set in my mind and will talk about it here soon.
The next small step happens a week from tomorrow - on Saturday, November 5th - when I will run the Mendon Ponds 50K in Rochester. I just registered yesterday.
If I'm truly going to be an ultrarunner I've got to get to the point where 50K is just another long training run rather than a momentous life achievement. Might as well start right away.